Sam Harris receives a (literal) pointing out instruction

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Sam Harris receives a (literal) pointing out instruction

Postby monktastic » Wed Nov 27, 2013 5:47 am

I knew Sam Harris (a famous, outspoken atheist) had some connection with Dzogchen, but hadn't heard this story before.

For instance, I once had an opportunity to study with the great Tibetan lama Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche in Nepal. Before making the trip, I had a dream in which he seemed to give me teachings about the nature of the mind. This dream struck me as interesting for two reasons: (1) The teachings I received were novel, useful, and convergent with what I later understood to be true; and (2) I had never met Khyentse Rinpoche, nor was I aware of having seen a photograph of him. This preceded my access to the Internet by at least five years, so the belief that I had never seen his picture was more plausible than it would be now. I also recall that I had no easy way of finding a picture of him for the sake of comparison. But because I was about to meet the man himself, it seemed that I would be able to confirm whether it had really been him in my dream.

First, the teachings: The lama in my dream began by asking who I was. I responded by telling him my name. Apparently, this wasn’t the answer he was looking for.

“Who are you?” he said again. He was now staring fixedly into my eyes and pointing at my face with an outstretched finger. I did not know what to say.

“Who are you?” he said again, continuing to point.

“Who are you?” he said a final time, but here he suddenly shifted his gaze and pointing finger, as though he were now addressing someone just to my left. The effect was quite startling, because I knew (insofar as one can be said to know anything in a dream) that we were alone. The lama was obviously pointing to someone who wasn’t there, and I suddenly noticed what I would later come to consider an important truth about the nature of the mind: Subjectively speaking, there is only consciousness and its contents; there is no inner self who is conscious. The feeling of being the experiencer of your experience, rather than identical to the totality of experience, is an illusion. The lama in my dream seemed to dissect this very feeling of being a self and, for a brief moment, removed it from my mind. I awoke convinced that I had glimpsed something quite profound.


On the other hand, he concludes with:

My travels in spiritual circles had also brought me into contact with many people who seemed all too eager to deceive themselves about experiences of this kind, and I did not wish to emulate them. Given these considerations, I did not believe that Khyentse Rinpoche had really appeared in my dream. And I certainly would never have been tempted to use this experience as conclusive proof of the supernatural.


http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/scie ... k-of-death
This undistracted state of ordinary mind
Is the meditation.
One will understand it in due course.

--Gampopa
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Re: Sam Harris receives a (literal) pointing out instruction

Postby Lindama » Wed Nov 27, 2013 6:24 am

Too bad that Sam concluded that... logic kills surely. He didn't trust his own experience.

Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche once winked at me from his picture on the altar. It was my first dzogchen retreat, I was new, I didn't know who he was... it took me a few years to find out who he was. There is not one thing in my mind that discounts this, but i have no idea of it's meaning twenty years later. Heart connection with Rinpoche all that seems to matter. I still have not read his books, no matter.

But, just in the last year or so, I discovered we both have an affinity for rabbits. oh, the mystery.
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Re: Sam Harris receives a (literal) pointing out instruction

Postby Lindama » Wed Nov 27, 2013 6:38 am

hmmm, I had no idea who Sam Harris was until I googled him just now. yet, there is no question who Dilgo Kyyentse is not knowing...
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Re: Sam Harris receives a (literal) pointing out instruction

Postby padma norbu » Wed Dec 11, 2013 10:59 pm

That is freaking awesome. I like to watch Sam Harris debate theists, but this was somewhat annoying to read. How many people get a great pointing out like that? He even "got it" and let it go to waste. The only times I've ever had a lama or someone in my dreams nothing comprehensible happens. One time Namkhai Norbu appeared naked and was pouring a vase of sand into a bowl or something. Then, he noticed me and sort of put on a "surprised" face and exited stage right never to be seen again.
"Use what seems like poison as medicine. We can use our personal suffering as the path to compassion for all beings." Pema Chodron
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Re: Sam Harris receives a (literal) pointing out instruction

Postby Guty » Thu Jan 02, 2014 9:25 pm

Amazing honesty. Truly admirable, especially when directed toward one's own experience. These experiences have potential to lead astray so many credulous people...
- La Esperanza es para la gente que vive sin Gracia -
- Hope is for people, who do not yet live in Grace -
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Re: Sam Harris receives a (literal) pointing out instruction

Postby Simon E. » Thu Jan 02, 2014 9:48 pm

Guty wrote:Amazing honesty. Truly admirable, especially when directed toward one's own experience. These experiences have potential to lead astray so many credulous people...


Quite right. These experiences are only meaningful in the context of an on going relationship with a Dzogchen master.
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Re: Sam Harris receives a (literal) pointing out instruction

Postby Guty » Thu Jan 02, 2014 10:39 pm

He speaks about these and similar experiences in this Joe Rogan interview, unfortunately don't remember in which part of the video, I've seen it some time ago, but it's pretty interesting. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WHBfB7usIcU
- La Esperanza es para la gente que vive sin Gracia -
- Hope is for people, who do not yet live in Grace -
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Re: Sam Harris receives a (literal) pointing out instruction

Postby duckfiasco » Fri Jan 03, 2014 1:54 am

padma norbu wrote:That is freaking awesome. I like to watch Sam Harris debate theists, but this was somewhat annoying to read. How many people get a great pointing out like that? He even "got it" and let it go to waste. The only times I've ever had a lama or someone in my dreams nothing comprehensible happens. One time Namkhai Norbu appeared naked and was pouring a vase of sand into a bowl or something. Then, he noticed me and sort of put on a "surprised" face and exited stage right never to be seen again.

Same. I've seen both Thich Nhat Hanh and HHDL smile at me in dreams. They become transparent and try to get me to come closer and somehow merge with them.
Nothing quite as clear as Mr. Harris's dream. He's right not to cling to it, but I think wrong to throw the dream under the bus of logic instead of seeing where the dream and the lama in his dream are pointing.

I find this kind of thing interesting, so thanks for sharing! :)
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Re: Sam Harris receives a (literal) pointing out instruction

Postby monktastic » Tue Sep 16, 2014 4:14 pm

BTW he just published a book, Waking Up, that talks a lot about Dzogchen, the pointing out instruction (and how good Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche was at giving it), and related matters.

No doubt many here will find his description lacking in depth. But then again, maybe that's not by accident or for lack of understanding.

Anyway, worth a read, if only for the sociological value.
Last edited by monktastic on Tue Sep 16, 2014 4:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
This undistracted state of ordinary mind
Is the meditation.
One will understand it in due course.

--Gampopa
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Re: Sam Harris receives a (literal) pointing out instruction

Postby ngodrup » Tue Sep 16, 2014 4:21 pm

To my way of thinking, it points to the necessity of merit and purification.
He had to have some mental clarity to dream and recall this, but needed
more to make use of it. There is no end of practice.

I've heard it said that those with the highest realization never stop
practicing, but those who need it most are quick to stop.
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